Thursday, May 17, 2012

SUMMER FUN FOR OLDER KIDS: Self-Sufficiency and Fun Ideas

1.  Learn Water Safety and the Basics of Boating. 
Even if you don't live near the water, teach your children the basics of boating and water safety.  At some point, they will be around a body of water.  These are good things to know as they grow into adulthood.

2.  Make homemade ice cream
Not only is this fun, it teaches delayed gratification.

3.  Teach your children an appreciation for art
Van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne and other great artists' printable outlines to color can be found here.

4.  Have 'black out' nights
Turn off all your electricity and be still.  Play board or card games by candlelight.  Color or do art projects.  Read a novel together.  I cannot tell you how much this simple act will calm your soul and instill an appreciation for times gone by.  You will be amazed how time seems to stand still.

The Boys' Book of Survival: How to Survive Anything, Anywhere
5.  Learn some basic survival skills
This is a great little book to teach your sons and daughters how to treat a snakebite, send an SOS message, make a map or build a ladder.  Click here for an online guide to the US Army Survival Manual for additional survival tips.

6.  Build a Tom Sawyer raft. 
See directions here.  For more curriculum ideas for "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" click here.

the A-frame tent tutorial
Source with instructions
7.  Make your own tent and sleep out under the stars
 Copy this print-out here, enlarge and punch out the constellations.

8. Give your child an alarm clock or other electronic device to take apart and reassemble
  Click here to learn how a clock works.  This is a hands-on project that stirs curiosity and helps with fine motor skills.

9.  Learn to read a compass.
Click here for instructions.

Picture credit: Jennifer Graham
10. Conduct basic science experiments
One Christmas my friend gave my children a bucket of science experiments.  It was the best gift and we did these experiments during Christmas break and then again during summer break.  Click here for a Pinterest link to many options.

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11. Read the book first and then see the movie outside on a drop cloth movie screen.
Click here for 25 DIY ideas for an outdoor movie night and click here for the best children's books that are also movies.

12. Plant a Garden
Let the children plant, weed, water, and cultivate their own garden.  In addition to teaching self-sufficiency and providing food, this is a great opportunity to discuss the 'weeds' of life! There are so many lessons to be learned about life in general from having a garden.  Anything worth having takes much care and nurturing, while the 'weeds' must be plucked along the way.

Source with ideas and printables; Also see my Pinterest board here
13. Set up a lemonade stand
Allow the children to calculate their costs and their sales; as well as, make the lemonade, set up and manage their table.  This teaches entrepreneurship, business management and service.

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14. Build a lemonade stand from pallet wood
Pallet wood is easily found, and most businesses will give it to you.  Click here for instructions on building a lemonade stand.

15. Pack a picnic
Let the kids choose what to pack and where to go.  If it is really hot outside, choose an early morning breakfast picnic.  This is a great opportunity to teach about foods and how some will spoil if not packaged properly.

16. Work on a farm for a day
This is a great experience for your children to see the process of bringing food from the field to the table and to appreciate the hard work that it takes to run a farm.   Check with your local Farmers' Association.  Most of the farms I contacted didn't have a program, but they were very willing to accept the help from a family willing to work.

  17. Challenge and support your beliefs
 Help your children understand why your family believes what you believe.  Reiterate your core values.  Support your beliefs and/or explain what faith is to you.  Present and debate challenges that your children may encounter at school, in sports or from their teachers or friends.

Mt. Pleasant, SC Farmers' Market
18. Buy vegetables at a Farmers' Market and make dinner that night with the fresh ingredients
Give the children cash to buy the groceries to make a special dish for dinner (veggie pizza, stir fry, etc..) This teaches budgeting and can teach children to cook using fresh ingredients.

19. Find a local service project and serve as a family
20. Have children invite grandparents on a date
Make a list of questions for kids to ask their grandparents to learn more about them and their generation.  This will bless the grandparents and will store many memories for children.  You could discuss what journalists do and give them pen and paper to take notes; sort of a Kit Kitridge kind of thing! Examples of questions are:
What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
Who was president when you were born?
What do you think is the greatest invention in the twenty-first century?
What was school like when you were young?
Did you serve in the military?  What was it like?

21. Teach your children how to dialogue with adults
Using a ball, bounce it to your child and ask a question such as, "How are you?"  The child returns the ball with a bounce and answers, "Hello!  I am great.  How are you today?"  This type of  Q & A continues with additional open ended questions until the adult concludes the conversation or the child excuses him or herself.  Teach children to always have eye contact while speaking and listening.  This is a great and fun interactive way to teach an invaluable skill.

22.  Teach your children how to cook
Teach them how to read a cookbook, follow directions, measure and cook a meal.

23. Have a 'spice tasting' party 
I think we might all cook better and eat healthier if we knew the secret to spices!   This is great information for your children to know, as they grow and learn to cook.  Click here for a basic spice checklist and have your own spice tasting experiment.

Biscuits with Butter and Honey
24. Make biscuits from scratch
My granny was always in the kitchen standing in a haze of flour making fresh biscuits.  Click here for a recipe, because our kids should know that there is something much, much better than a canned biscuit.

25. Make real butter

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26. Paint a self portrait

Mason and Brooke Owen at the Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, NC original store 1883
27. Have lessons about different eras
The Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, the Space Age...visit towns, visitor centers or the library to study past generations and how people lived.  Recreate things from the past to teach children how times used to be.  This helps to understand a slower way of life and to appreciate modern conveniences.  Note the 'checkers' are bottle caps!

28. Have a basic sewing lesson with your sons and daughters
Boys and girls should both learn the basics of sewing. 

29. Have a lesson in the laundry room
Teach children to sort, wash, and fold their own laundry.  The goal is not to have it done perfectly, but to teach children to take care of themselves.  After your lesson, have children hand-wash some clothes and hang them on a clothesline to dry.  They will appreciate the incredible convenience of these machines.

30. Thank our military
If you know a soldier, invite him or her over to discuss what it is like to serve our country.  Have your children write thank-you notes to show appreciation for the men and women who fight for our freedom.  As the picture shows, these soldiers sacrifice so much to give us the freedoms we have.

31. Build a tree house
Click here for plans to build your own or check out the Dangerous Book for Boys for a basic tree fort design.

32. Learn to cut hair
Do you have a friend who is a stylist? Invite her over and see if she will give a lesson on how to give a basic trim.  If I could give a decent haircut to my children, it would save me lots of money and time!  Teach your children, so they will know how when they have children.

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33. Take a retro road trip
Do you remember road trips with your family in the station wagon?  Growing up, my husband's family rarely stopped for food on long trips from South Carolina to Michigan.  They always packed their food.  My friend, Lana suggested that we take a retro road trip!  Instead of stopping at the fast food joints along the way, make all of your meals for the trip.  Stop and have picnics and enjoy the fresh air and fresh food.  Get the children involved in planning the trip and making the meals.

34. Make a collage together
We made the SC flag from torn magazines.  I printed a template as an outline.  A self-portrait would also make a great collage.

35. Research three things of interest
One summer, my daughter researched sea shells, the American Doll and how the moon affects the tide. This allows kids to learn something fun, while gaining research experience.

36. Tour your town, as if you were a visitor
Study the history of your town and how it got its name.  This will help instill a sense of pride in your children and where they live.

Soap Wrappers {Printables}
37. Study the pioneer women and make your own soap
In addition to having to fight to stay alive, pioneer women had to make their own soap.  Study their adventures to the Wild West and learn some things they had to do to survive.  Unlike the chalky bars of the pioneer days, here is an easy recipe to make soap.   Here is a link for the pretty soap wrappers, too!

38. Make your own candles
Make your own candles and use them during your 'black-out' nights!  Pioneer women of the 1800s used molds to make candles.  Making candles was a long process, but a necessary one to survive the long, dark nights.  It began by boiling meat to separate the animal fat.  Once it became a liquid, it was poured into a mold with a wick.  This was a messy, smelly and arduous process.  Here is a link to making simple candles with your children and here is a link for making tallow candles just like the pioneer women.  Aren't we all thankful for the gift of electricity and the ease of buying a Yankee candle!

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39. Pop the hood and learn how a car runs
I have a friend, a woman, who knows her cars.  She has agreed to give my two daughters and son a crash course on engines and how to take care of a car...just 'good to know' things to gain some self-sufficiency.  Sewing is not just for girls and cars are not just for boys!  Tech schools offer courses, but find a friend or a friend of a friend to help you out.

40. Build a Kite
Here are instructions.

41.  Diversity makes the world go round
Teach children about different cultures, different people and different traditions.  It is important for children to embrace that we are all different.  I tell my children, "Praise God, we are all different, or the world would be so boring."  If possible, travel to different places and discuss the differences in people and cultures.

42. Skin a Fish
Learning to fish is a great skill on the path to self-sufficiency.  I believe the Chinese Proverb says, "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.  Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."  Teach him how to skin a fish (here), so he can eat the fish.  Good to know...

43.  Read Shakespeare aloud and/or act it out
Wouldn't this be funny and add so much humor, while learning about one of the greatest writers in the English language?  Do this during a 'black-out' night with the candles you made.

Elvis Presley
44. Learn and listen to some of the all time greatest musicians
 Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Elvis, The Beatles, Little Richard...Turn your living room into a dance hall.  Add some fun to your learning by playing these great artist while you dance.  Click here for a list of the 100 Greatest Artist of All Time according to Rolling Stone.

Three Pixie Lane
45.  Teach your children about flag etiquette
Unless you are a boy scout, a girl scout or in the military, you may not know how to properly display our National flag.  One of my readers contacted me to share how to respect and display our National flag, after I used it as decoration on the back of my porch swing (it should not be used as decoration on the back of a porch swing!)  Click here to read about flag etiquette.  Good to know!

Two books for more ideas of things to do with your children or things they should know before they leave home are


My oldest daughter is ten years old, and sometimes I feel like she has one foot out the door and already in college; time flies by too quickly.  As parents, one of our goals should be to raise our children to be self-sufficient and prepared for this great big world.  Many of the things listed above are things I didn't know how to do or still don't know how to do or simply listed for fun!  Not only do I hope for them to be independent and self-sufficient, but I also hope they can learn several trades before they leave our home.

Do you have other ideas for teaching children to be independent or other summer fun activities for older children?

Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

A Kitchen Peek

The cupboards are bare, but it is coming together...
What a difference from before!  It will take me some time to add more touches to make it feel like home again!
Two wing back chairs flank either side of the room and were a gift for Mother's Day.
Now, I just need to learn to cook!
As of two days ago, we have a functioning kitchen!  The water was turned back on and the refrigerator is now cold!  I am washing dishes and restocking the cabinets today.  When you don't have your kitchen, you realize how much it is the center of your home!  What a great Mother's Day present to be (almost) finished!

Here are a few shots of the mostly finished space.  This has consumed my life for the past several months.  If you are considering a kitchen remodel, or really any remodel in your home, come back and see what lessons I have learned.  I will start posting again soon!

Thank you!

Happy 40th Birthday Heather 'At the Picket Fence!'

  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
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